Nursing Home Blamed for Fiery Death

The state Department of Public Health announced an "AA" citation -- the most severe penalty under state law -- against
the Lemon Grove Care and Rehabilitation Center Friday, based on findings that inadequate care led to a patient's death.

The citation stems from an incident in March, 2008, when a 76-year-old resident was left unattended in a designated smoking area and set himself on fire while trying to light his cigarette, the health department said.  By the time the staff was made aware of the situation, the man was engulfed in flames.

Dr. Mark Horton, director of the Department of Public Health, said the Lemon Grove center failed to protect the health and safety of its residents by not providing adequate resident supervision, resulting in the patient suffering fatal injuries.

The CDPH said its citation process -- which ranges from "B" to "AA," is part of its ongoing enforcement efforts to improve the quality of care provided to residents of the state's 1,400 skilled nursing facilities.

The Lemon Grove facility was also fined $80,000.

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